I don’t think so: A Canadian reacts to the American election

This blog is ultimately about inclusion. Yes, I focus on inclusive early literacy but in light of the USA election results, I need to air a few thoughts about what this all means to me, as a human being, a Canadian, and a professional white woman who has worked my entire adult life to provide literacy resources directly to children and their families. If you know me in real life you know I am prone to foul-mouthed responses to things that upset me, things like misogyny, ableism, bigotry and general hatred being at the top of my list of profanity inducing issues. So fill in the asterisks as you see fit in the following: What the actual f***! It is 2016! What are these f***ers thinking electing this monster? What is wrong with you stupid a**h***s anyway! Oh my freaking…what? What?

I watched the election results with my sister and at the end of it all we hugged and cried and I walked home in the rain weeping and saying out loud to the night “How could they do that?” over and over again.

I’m not American, but I am North American. I arrived in Canada at age 5 and became a citizen at 16. Almost my entire adult life in Canada has been spent working with children and families, mostly in public libraries. I have developed and delivered many programs intended to increase the participation and inclusion of our most vulnerable community members, and I know we do good work. Here’s the thing though: A great deal of my drive and enthusiasm for children’s librarianship has come from my association with American librarians. I started attending library conferences in the USA early in my library career and quickly tuned in to the critical mass of excellence that thrives there. I give credit to countless US colleagues for expanding my abilities, for making me a better children’s librarian and a better advocate for getting library services to the children and families who need us most, i.e. immigrants, refugees, people with disabilities and members of other marginalized and underserved communities.

Today, I think my relationship with so many American librarians lulled me into a sense of security. There were so many fantastic librarians doing so much good work, for all the right and socially just reasons that this couldn’t possibly go wrong, right? To my mind, Americans were smart and strong and they gave an actual sh** about people, or at least enough of them did to keep Trump from winning, are you kidding me? Wrong. I admit I was wrong. And now things are wrong and not only slightly wrong but terribly wrong.

At this moment, I choose to speak truth to this utter wrongness and say I denounce Trump and his ilk. I denounce bigotry in all its insidious forms and I denounce complacency. I denounce the now common refrains: Calm down; Wait four years; and my personal favourite: Give him a chance! What the actual f***? Why should I give him a chance? He has had a lifetime of chances to prove he is not a bigoted jerk and I am supposed to wait until he’s installed in the freaking White House until he proves himself as anything but the bigoted, misogynist, ableist and ignorant cad he really is? As a Canadian librarian who has spent decades fostering young children on their paths to becoming critically literate citizens of the planet I denounce this nonsense for what it is: an unfathomably enormous backwards step for the entire human race, and a particularly hard and brutal shove backwards for what I thought was a shared, vibrant and just North American culture. Ouch, that hurts.

Besides being worried for very specific people who Trump’s agenda poses actual and immediate danger to, I am intellectually and morally distressed that the bigotry I always knew existed at a certain level isn’t actually on the down low, isn’t actually on the decline, isn’t actually socially unacceptable like I thought it was. No. This kind of crap is everywhere and while we’re at it we won’t be ignoring the fact that it is insidiously rampant in Canada too. Besides the actual existence of these horrid attitudes, now that Trump has told the entire world that xenophobia, ableism and misogyny is okay, the bigots and sexists have their hero (again). They and their terrible ideas are being legitimized as I type. Today, I learned that a Canadian politician thinks his “exciting” ideas will be welcomed in Canada? I don’t f***ing think so, not in my Canada anyway.

I am not crawling under a rock to wait it out though. I have every intention of continuing to show up for my students as well as and the children and families I serve in public libraries. I will call out bigotry and ableism at every turn so I dare bigots to try it in my presence, or on my Facebook page, on my Twitter page, on my blog or in real life. I will take bigotry down while I still have breath. I will research and write and publish and talk about inclusion. I will hold the line for equality, respect and acceptance. I will watch my colleagues in Canada, the USA and beyond do this good work too. The monsters got in a few shoves, maybe took a bite or two, but they are not eating us whole. No way.

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